Perks of the job…

January 15, 2010 · 20 comments

As I walked across the stage and received my college diploma I had dollar signs in my eyes. I was all about trying to earn the largest income possible. Two and a half years later, I’m coming to realize salary is only one piece of the puzzle. A large salary is nice, but awesome benefits really turn me on….puuurrrrr.

Insurance was a foreign concept to me as a college student. I was on my parents health insurance and never really realized how important it was. To date, I have still had no major medical emergencies, but having a job that provides full insurance benefits puts my mind at ease. Since I work for Uncle Sam, I have quite a few insurance options. Competition drives down prices. If I worked for a company that didn’t provide health insurance I could easily be paying twice as much per month, in premiums, for an individual plan.

If you didn’t already know, I work from home. A few of the perks that come with this: I can work in my underwear, no boss breathing down my neck, and my internet bill gets reimbursed. That’s $40 a month automatic savings in my pocket.

I guess I must be kinda important because I’m fortunate enough to have a work vehicle. If I took another job I would most likely have to drive to work each day. Assuming I had a 25 mile (roundtrip) commute for said job, I would be spending roughly $1,000/yr just to get to and from work (and that doesn’t even account for the wear and tear on the vehicle, maintenance, etc). My work vehicle doesn’t only save me gas money, but it also reduces my private auto insurance premium. Since I only put a few thousand miles on my personal vehicle each year, I am able to insure it as a leisure vehicle, which in turn lowers my insurance quote, probably saving me another $20/month.

I know 401K matching is pretty typical in most large companies, but it is not a guaruntee. Especially when the economy suffers and employers need to cut back some of their costs. Fortunately for me I have had 5% of my income matched since the first day I started. At my current income ($50K), The Man is contributing $2,500 towards my future.

So in reality, my salary may only be $50K, but I’m actually receiving about $5,000 in additional (mostly tax free) benefits. Whenever I look in to other job prospects I remind myself that the salary is only a small piece of the overall employment picture. Heck working from home is so epic, I would have to get paid a lot more elsewhere to consider giving up the freedom I have.

Now it’s your turn bloggers. Wont you share some of the benefits you receive from your employer? Do you get free lunch (like google employees)? Maybe discounts at certain retailers? What percent, if any, does your employer match to a 401k? Is the salary what’s important, or is it the benefits?

1 @Small_Town_Runr

Both salary and benefits are important — but even more important is the culture. If you feel your boss / company appreciates you, it can go a long way to make up for the monetary perks you don't get. But if you feel unappreciated or taken advantage of, all the money in the world won't make it an enjoyable job.

2 Larry

Work from home in your underwear? That's nothing. Now if you had a job where you could work at the office in your underwear, I would be impressed.

3 psychsarah

I would agree wholeheartedly wityh Small_Town_Runr-culture is probably my biggest perk. I have an absolutely fantastic boss and great colleagues, and it makes me love my job. I also have a fair bit of flexibility, so sometimes I work from home (in my jammies, not my undies though!) and can move my day around to accomodate appts and such. We also have an Employee Assistance Program, which provides free help with all sorts of things (counseling, coordinating child/elder care, etc.). I haven't taken advantage of this yet, but its nice to know its there.

4 Mommymel

How wonderful you made that realization early on. It's not always about the pay. While like anyone else, I could always use more money…..my benefits are pretty good. Bonus: we have unlimited sick days (up to 7 in a row, after that short term disability) that covers you and sick days for anyone you are responsible for. It's fantastic that when my children are sick, I can take the time off without worry about using an alloted amount of days……great prices in a nice cafeteria, a gym for a nominal fee that provides everything but your underwear and footwear, discounts in business, emergency child/elder care, our benefits went up considerably this year but I know folks who pay a lot more for less….In short. it's about the benefits as much as the pay

5 Jared

I completely agree. I make roughly $50k/year as well, but the benefits are amazing: they contribute 10%(!!!) of my salary to my 403(b), free passes for public transit, amazing medical coverage at minimal expense, $700/year for "continuing studies", free access to university athletics facilities plus incredibly cheap exercise classes, $300 year for participating in free health activities, and more.

6 Denis

My perks? Pension contribution equal to 9% of my salary (42k), 5 weeks vacation, 3 sick leave weeks, pay up to 6 credits of my Graduate program (each 3 credit class class is 1k!!), flexible schedule allows me to use my leave time to do freelance work (more mula!), $50 a month for my insurance premium, a 403b with VANGUARD (best bang for your buck).
That's it.

7 Donnie

8% 401k match (cut to 4%). Retiree health benefits (company cut them after offering a higher pension or the health benefit). Pension (I can't imagine it will be around in 40 years), college course reimbursement (max of $7,500 per year, must be directly related to your current job, not to actually get you an advancement). Life insurance. Health insurance (cost passed onto employees increased by 15% this year). 2 weeks of vacation.

To be honest, I would rather have the extra cash than some nebulous "benefits". It would make comparing salaries a whole lot easier.

8 RainyDaySaver

We have small benefits — 401(k) is only matched to the first $1K of your contributions (still free money), free coffee/tea/hot chocolate, and we get a lot of free hair and makeup products from PRs that get sold at $1 a pop twice a year, with the money donated to charity. So it saves us some money. But what I would give to be working from home in my jammies all day!

9 tom

Started out of college about 4 years ago, been with same company the whole time:

Salary – $83K

401(k) matching – 75% up to 8%
Pension – unsure of contribution
Accrual based vacation – 2 weeks 2 days right now
Health care + vision – 2 options – one free, one costs employees extra $60
Dental – all employer paid
Flex Time
Sick time – accrual based w/ yearly carry over
Virtual work – not 100% of the time, not in all jobs
Yearly bonus (maybe) based on company performance
Bi-annual stock bonus based on stock price
Up front tuition payments – up to certain amount per year
Discount website access

10 Craig Kessler

Sounds like you have a pretty good deal with working from home and the benefits. Saving tons of money. I don't have financial perks but have a very stress free office and work time is flexible on vacation or leaving early which is nice.

11 The Asian Pear

I'm government worker so we get good benefits but not great benefits. Mostly stuff because we're unionized. The usual stuff: eyecare, dental, supplemental health care, insurance, money for classes/lessons, discounts to attractions, etc.

That being said, I know places that would treat their employees to lunch, have pop/tea/coffee in the cafe for them, have christmas bonuses,etc. We get NONE of that since it's would be all paid via taxpayers' dollars. And that ain't good.

12 Money Funk

Perks??? u work from home in your underwear? Sweet!

We have spring and fall craft fair/farmer's market, have a full cafeteria with good prices, book vendors, 5% employer salary match, nice benefits. It's all good. And my schedule is pretty flexible which is nice since I have things like kids, dental appointments, etc… without needing to take sick time.

13 Jake Stichler

I get to buy products at only a 10% markup… woo! And I even have to go pick them myself, too!

14 lifeandfinances

What a great post! Its nice to focus on the things that are great about our jobs instead of the things that suck. I make a similar salary as you and I work in education. The benefits can't be beat! Plus the school district matches my 8% STRS contribution (others in our area do not), 3 weeks off at Christmas, One week off at Easter, Monday off because it is MLK day, etc, etc….Plus If I ever need to not show up, calling a sub is easy.. Oh, and the admins pretty much leave us alone.

15 Ronnie

My company doesn't have a 401k :(, but we only have 10 employees total so it's not totally surprising. My boss pays my insurance premium in full, as well as all continuing legal education courses and my annual renewal fee for the state bar. That probably adds up to around $3,000/year, and is a huge benefit to me. We also get all federal holidays except Veteran's Day, and she doesn't count Christmas as part of our 2-week paid vacations.

16 MoneyMaus

To be honest, I think benefits can make or break a job/career… a high salary is great, but I like benefits more!

Case in point: I work at a financial firm and we have done ZERO layoffs since the recession started! They cut other perks (summer picnic, holiday party, annual raise, occasional gift cards) instead of people… amazing! The work/life balance is awesome, tenure at the company is great, I got an annual bonus last year and just found out I'll be getting a (small) one this year as well, AWESOME health insurance, 401k with match, profit sharing, etc. My salary isn't exactly top-notch at all, especially for the industry I am in – but when I think of all the incredible benefits, I know that is worth MUCH more than a large paycheck! ;)

PS Jealous of the company car!

17 TeacHer

Two words: summers off :)

18 Steph

I get a relatively flexible work schedule…they don't care too much about when you come in or leave as long as you put in your hours. We can also modify our work schedule in order to go to doctor's appointments or other things.
We get a 3% 401(k) match, plus a pension-like fund that they contribute to.

19 No Debt Guy

Salary is definitely important, but my government job also has good benefits and a defined pension plan. I will give it up though once the mortgage is paid off and I am debt free!! 3.5 years is all goes as planned! :)

20 sadie

ha ha, the picture is funny because in all seriousness my only benefit IS that they don't block Facebook!

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